Chief Kingsley Nwobilor is a past President, Ukwa Ngwa Federated Union, Abuja Branch, and founding member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), who contested for the Ugwunagbo state constituency in the Abia state House of Assembly. In this interview with BODE OLAGOKE, the economist turned politician speaks on the latest political developments in Abia, his home state, against the backdrop of the recent Court of Appeal judgement which pronounced Chief Alex Otti winner of the 2015 governorship elections.
You are a founding member of APGA in Abia state. Your state constituency, Ugwunagbo, is part of Obingwa, arguably the hotbed of the state politics and one of the three controversial local governments in the Abia governorship results. What can you say is the problem?
Apparently the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) intended to hold the three local governments, Obingwa, Osisioma and Isiala Ngwa North local government areas as their joker, knowing full well that they would lose the elections. So they tried to generate all kinds of problems. They tried to intimidate members of other parties particularly APGA by brandishing cutlasses, other weapons. They carried caskets to the homes of our members to give the impression that the next day would be bloody. They brought one casket to my house and issued threats of what they would do the next day. They did all kinds of things
When they saw that it did not work, they resorted to snatching ballot boxes and election materials. They induced INEC officials; intimidated those they could not induce and ensured that they cooperated with them.
While voters waited patiently at the polling stations, they hid somewhere, filling the results sheets. We had a situation where only one man signed, with the same biro and signature, all the INEC results sheets from different polling stations.
It was all scam between the INEC and PDP. There was not election in the three local government areas and even Ugwunagbo. That was why INEC ran into the quagmire of rejecting and accepting the results at the same. Nigerians saw everything on television. The international observers noted as much and spoke out.
So, where did INEC get the results they announced later for the three LGAs if there were no elections, and no results?
They were manufactured results. It actually baffled everybody that INEC later accepted those results after rejecting them. If you watched them on television, you have noticed that they (INEC Returning Officers) first of all took a break, apparently to enable them ‘confer’ with what the PDP came with. By the time they returned, the damage had been done.
There were no accreditations whatsoever. The confusion and tension the PDP created with their brigand behaviours, including distribution of caskets to opponents and brandishing of dangerous weapons – and it was what they wanted – did not allow for accreditation. There was maximum tension and fear. So they got the chance to corner the INEC officials, give them money they could not refuse, then filled the forms together and proceeded to the collation centers at the fullness of time with what they had.
Are you saying the falsification of the results in the three controversial local governments was done with the connivance of INEC officials?
Yes. Absolutely. The rigging and connivance extended to Ugwunagbo local government where I contested for the House of Assembly seat. The sensitive materials were given to the supervisors who did not share according to instructions. There are 10 Wards in Ugwunagbo LGA. Those sensitive materials were not shared anywhere. At the end of the election time, Wards 9 and 7 were cancelled. Ward 4 results was written and signed by the same polling agents on behalf of other party agents. These were what INEC recorded as elections and announced results.
This compromise was what INEC officials exhibited in all the polling areas in all the local government areas in Abia South Senatorial Zone in the governorship election in 2015. The partnership and collaboration between INEC and PDP against Dr Alex Otti and the people of Abia state was not hidden. For the governor then, Chief T. A. Orji and his party members, it was the fight for their life. The looting of Abia treasury had been enormous so it was important to leave a government behind who would cover their evil deeds against possible probes by the EFCC. What we have seen is that former governor T. A. Orji used money to buy his way to the Senate. In the same election, he bought a seat for his son in the state House of Assembly. It is unprecedented. It is callous.
How come the Tribunal did not see these evidences you speak about?
They are humans. If the INEC can abandon or fail in their duties for one reason or the other, then the Tribunal members can also fail. But you heard the Court of Appeal words for them. The truth is that we know from what level in the judicial system that we expect to see justice
The Court of Appeal took time to examine the evidences we brought and were convinced that there were no elections in these local governments and decided to do what INEC lacked the verve to do, that is, to throw away the frivolous results. Those results were hurriedly manufactured with no regards to possible number of registered voters and the actual number of voters who participated in the elections. That was why the number they got was far higher than the number of registered voters in the affected areas.
Talking about the caskets that were seen distributed around Obingwa and Aba metropolis on the election eve, what was it for?
It was the handiwork of the PDP. And you can’t believe that although it was done by the youths, yet it was conceived and supervised by elders in the party. They sought to use it to intimidate and cause maximum tension so that the APGA members, especially non indigenes, will be afraid to come out to vote. During that same night, the youths were wielding dangerous weapons like knives, clubs and even guns, giving the impression that the next day will be bloody and rough. The idea was to scare people from coming out so that they would have enough space to perpetrate their heinous plans.
Did they attack the people they took the caskets to?
People were attacked. Deaths were recorded in some places. Siege was kept in the homes of key members of APGA to stop them from being effective in last minute mobilisation of our voters. They realised that despite the monies and bags of rice and wrappers they distributed, the people of Abia state were bent on voting them out. If they were popular, and were sure of winning the elections there would not have been any need for all the antics and threats.
They knew that under normal circumstances, they were gone. The APGA party, even with very little campaigning – we did not have any money and so could not bribe anyone – had goodwill and the people behind us. Majority of the people who put their lives on the line for Dr Alex Otti were even card carrying members of the PDP, who were pissed off with the governance of Chief T. A. Orji in the state, and felt that ‘enough is enough,’ as they would say it.
But is it really true that INEC initially rejected the doctored results from those three local government areas before admitting them back? ‘
That was exactly what happened. Before they brought those results, INEC had already captured the true results from the card readers. Upon realising that Dr Alex Oti had won Dr Okezie Ikpeazu in 13 of the 17 local government areas of the state, they decided that something must be done immediately.
They came with all kinds of protestations and confusion, prompting the returning officer to take a break. The break was a conspiracy to enable them find reasons to readmit the controversial results from the three local governments they had rejected. The conspiracy against APGA in Abia state, and the use of money to twist even the security agents was very glaring.
Your party won at the Appeal Court and the PDP went to the Supreme Court. What do you think will happen?
What will happen is simple. The Supreme Court will uphold the decision of the Appeal Court and Dr Alex Otti’s mandate will be restored. All the robberies and atrocities committed against the people will be upturned. He will ensure that all stolen monies will be returned to the treasury. There is no immunity for anyone to hide behind.
We have heard about the worry of the peoples of the three LGAs being disenfranchised with the Appeal Court decision, but it is not the courts that have disenfranchised the people. It is the PDP, right from the time they disallowed people from being accredited and no elections held, and they went and cooked up results. That was when they disenfranchised the people.
So it is not the court that is disenfranchising the people. The same people now shouting disenfranchisement were the people carrying caskets and machetes daring people to come out and die.
We understand that an INEC office and voting materials in a station in one of the three LGAs, meant for inspection were burnt by unknown persons
There is nothing like unknown persons. The same people who carried caskets and machetes were the same people who burnt the INEC office. Their actions were carried out stage by stage. When one failed they would carry out the next one.
When the carrying of caskets failed to stop the people, they resorted to kidnapping INEC officials and forcing them to accept monies and write non existing results. When we came up with evidence that the results were manufactured and did not tally, and the tribunal decided to inspect the election materials, they decided to destroy the evidence by burning down the building where the evidence were kept.
So it was a step by step thing for them. Everything points to desperation. The whole idea was to ensure that a PDP stooge remained behind in the Abia government house. They sought to win at all cost. APGA could not have burnt the INEC office and materials when we were the same people calling for the inspection of the materials. It was the PDP people, with active connivance of the police in Abia state.
Are you sure the Police had a hand?
How else do you explain that Policemen were supposed to the guarding the building? Indeed there is supposed to be a police guard in every INEC office, at least during election period. What we saw was police speaking from both sides of the mouth about who was posted there and where they were when the incident happened.
Up till today, nothing about it has been heard, in terms of who was culpable. Such a heinous crime was committed against the state, at a post where there is police duty, and no one has said anything? And you want to tell Nigerians that the Police were not compromised? Haba!
The truth is that not only the Police were compromised in Abia state during that election, most of the security agents failed to do their work, and we all know why. The kind of money the PDP distributed during that election was irresistible. They knew the citizens were waiting for them at the polls so they stole as much as they could and decided to concentrate on INEC and the security agents
Given the background you have given, do you think there will be peace in Ngwaland if Dr Alex Otti comes to power as governor?
Why not? Are we not all Ngwa people? Truth is that the PDP as a party is no longer as popular as they were. They lost out completely with the people and they know it. Otherwise they would not be struggling like a drowning person during the elections, and even up till today.
I am not Otti’s spokesman, but the much I know him, I see him committing energy towards healing Ngwaland. The PDP has torn it apart in the name of politics. The land that is half of the entire Abia state was completely abandoned by preceding governments. Otti will rebuild Ngwaland, that I am very sure.